In the aftermath of losing a pet, you may be forced to make decisions you have never been faced with, such as how to care for your beloved pet's remains. Some people choose to have their dogs cremated, while others choose to bury them in their backyards. Either way the decision is yours and only yours to make.
When the unfortunate time comes, Brook Farm Veterinary Center often receives requests from clients who would like to bury the remains of their beloved fur babies at home. With that in mind, we decided this would be a helpful resource for those in the same position.
First things first you may be wondering, well, where should I bury my pet? The location of the grave is a personal choice and ultimately your decision. If you elect to bury your pet on the property where you reside, you must be the owner of that property. Landlords and government agencies (like the forest service) frown upon pet’s being buried on their land.
At Brook Farm Veterinary Center we perform many pet euthanasias and have discovered that about 50% of our clients prefer to bury their beloved pets over the alternative option of cremation.
If your pet is scheduled for euthanasia, we suggest digging the hole and preparing the grave site ahead of time. This will save you and your family some emotional distress versus having to do this the moment you bring your pet’s remains home. One thing to keep in mind when burying a pet, is do not dig over buried electrical lines, sewer, gas or water lines because, although most of them are deeper than 4 feet deep, they may need to be dug up for repairs at some time in the future and this may impact where you’ve placed your pet’s rem We recommend trying to avoid digging near trees and home foundations which can make digging difficult.
How deep should the hole be? In general, the top of the body should be covered with at least three feet of dirt. For a larger animal, a 4 foot deep hole should be sufficient. The remains can be dug up by animals if a grave is too shallow. Also, keep in mind a hole dug sufficiently deep will prevent natural odors from escaping the grave. Your neighbors will thank you! Lastly, digging a hole deep enough will prevent disease from being spread from the remains. This is actually the reason that human graves have to be dug 6 feet deep as a standard procedure.
We recommend wrapping your deceased pet in a small blanket, sheet or towel before gently lowering them into the pre-dug hole. Avoid using plastic as this can take longer to naturally decompose over time. Since you’ve decided to bury your pet’s remains, you should consider how or if you would want to mark your pet’s grave, whether that be with their name, favorite toy, a stone or cross or something completely different. We have seen some beautiful displays with names painted on stones, crosses or on trees on the homeowner's personal property.
Digging a grave can be hard work. Many of our clients choose cremation with their pet’s ashes returned to them as an alternative. This allows them to keep the ashes in an urn, then scatter the ashes over one of their pet’s favorite places or bury them in a much shallower grave on their property.
There is no one right way to make this decision. Whatever feels best to you and your family will be the right thing to do for your pet.
No matter what you choose to do, we encourage you to remember and celebrate the life of your pet that brought so much happiness, love and joy to you and your family and give them the tribute they truly deserve.